Most Common Misconceptions about Screen Capture

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1.) “I Need Expensive Software…”

People often assume that to record their screen they need to buy some high-end software to give them professional results. There are two pieces of software in fact that allow you to capture your screen and audio narration, for free. One is Quick

Time Player and the other is VLC Media Player. Both are available for download from their respective websites.

2.) “I Can Wing It…”

Decide what you are going to say before you start shooting. Knowing what you will say and how you will get from one point to the next makes it much smoother and easier to follow. Use a mind map, outlines, or whatever works for you. By planning in advance, it will take you minutes instead of hours to produce your video. Furthermore this will keep your thought process clear so you are able to keep things concise and not raScreen Capture Sequence.00_09_14_21.Still003mble on.

3.) “I Can Use the Built-in Mic…”

The built-in microphone on your camera or computer is not going to give you good quality sound. Poor quality sound can make listening to your narration unbearable. Instead, make sure you use a quality external microphone to avoid any hiss or static and ensure clear, crisp audio. You can find external condenser microphones that plug directly into your computer via USB.

4.) “I’ll Just Read the Information Off of Slides…”

There is nothing more painful to sit through than a presentation where the speaker is reading verbatim off of Power Point slides. This is a massive turn off for people watching. If you have visual aids, such as slides, to accompany your narration make sure the information on them is in digestible bullet points that summarize what you are saying as opposed to long paragraphs that are transcriptions of exactly what you are saying.

5.) “I’ll Put Something Out There and See What Happens…”

A good presentation, like a story, has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Don’t get caught up in rattling off technical jargon to show how much you know. Consider your audience. Knowing the audience that will be watching, and their skill level, will make a big difference in how you tell your story.

For those wanting to learn a couple of quick and easy (and free!) pieces of software for screen capture, here is my free tutorial:

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Online Video Sharing

I have written in the past about the importance of having a video embedded in the homepage of your website, not only for search engine optimization (SEO) but also to engage potential clients immediately. One of the questions I am often asked once clients receive their final video is whether they should upload to YouTube or Vimeo.  With many different video hosting sites out there it can be hard to determine which site is best for your business. Therefore let me summarize the strengths and weaknesses of each.

YOUTUBE
In the last few years as YouTube has risen in popularity, and been acquired by Google, it seems that YouTube will give you the best search engine results.  That means if you type in a phrase on Google, the first videos to come up in the search results will more than likely be related YouTube videos. Additionally, YouTube now offers many advertising opportunities so you can generate revenue from your videos. And with an estimated 800 million monthly viewers worldwide, showcasing your videos on YouTube can provide you a very wide reach.

With that said, because of the popularity of YouTube, the types of videos you come across will range from professional masterpieces to amateur fluff. A potential customer or client trying to find your video, or watching your video, will be bombarded with other video recommendations all of which will draw focus away from you. Think of how easily we can go from watching a beautiful time lapse video to a zany cat video. Also when you upload a video to YouTube, because of their compression, you may notice a significant loss in quality.

VIMEO
Known for their more simplistic site with many advanced customizable features, you can upload a video to Vimeo with very little loss in quality. Furthermore, with a Vimeo Plus account you can customize everything in the player features and settings, allowing you to adjust the colors and text in the player and even embed your logo into the player itself.  You can also control which sites are able to embed the video.

So, what’s the drawback with Vimeo? The major difference is that Vimeo does not generate nearly as large of a viewership as YouTube. And while you can upload with a free account, you will find many of the advanced features require upgrading to a Vimeo Plus or Pro account.

The best thing is to first decide what type of video you are going to post. Is this a promo video to be embedded on your website? Or, is this a fun, short video you want to be passed around? Given that both sites allow you to create a free account, my answer would be to post your video to both YouTube and Vimeo. Use YouTube as a platform to get maximum exposure for your video and use Vimeo when embedding your video on your website, blog, etc.

Stabilizing

Recently, I talked about a bit about using a smartphone camera to shoot quality video. If you missed it, you can read it HERE. It can certainly be beneficial to those looking to shoot something on the fly without the need for a lot of expensive equipment. In this month’s newsletter, I would like to add to that and share a few options for stabilizing your camera and preventing your footage from appearing too “handheld”.

With your smartphone, Flip camera, or Vado camera it’s so convenient to carry it in your pocket and hold it in your hand once you are ready to shoot. However, shooting video completely handheld will cause it to lack that professional look, not to mention make the video difficult to watch. With that said, for around $20 you can get a tripod adapter case that will hold your iPhone and allow it to be mounted on a 1/4″ screw base.  Once you have this there are many lightweight stabilizers that the phone can be mounted to. For travel, I always carry a Joby GorillaPod in my bag. It is small, lightweight, and its legs can either be stood up like a normal tripod or wrapped around a pole which make it very versatile – especially if you want to film yourself talking.

If I am going to be filming someone or something I prefer to have more control with being able to give a little movement to the shot. For this I use a Fig Rig. This device, which resembles a steering wheel, really helps stabilize the shot when standing still (preventing the shakiness of my hands from shaking the camera). By turning it like a wheel you can also get angles, giving the video a more dynamic look. The Fig Rig also allows for some movement – mostly panning and tilting the camera (side to side and up and down). It is not as desirable if you are going to be moving the camera around a lot as it will not absorb any bounce when walking.

To get a stabile and steady shot while walking with the camera, it is best to use the Steadicam Smoothee. This device works exactly like a Steadicam (used in many movies) to achieve a fluid, floating look to the shot – smoothing out any bounce or shake when you walk. This device is perfect if you are wanting to create a very cinematic look with your video. However, due to the mechanics of this device there is not much control when you are standing still with the shot (the camera continues to move around if you don’t hold it still with your other hand). With that said when thinking about which type of stabilizer to get, consider where and what you are going to be filming the majority of the time.

Regardless of what you are shooting and the device you are shooting on, it is helpful to understand the importance of stabilizing your camera to give your footage a clear and steady look of quality.

iPhone Video

One of the questions I am often asked is “What type of consumer camera is best?”. You might be surprised to hear my answer. For those looking for a camera that is lightweight, easy to use, and has great picture quality, you may already have exactly what you need in your pocket. It is amazing how far video recording has come in the past 5 years. When I began shooting video professionally, HD cameras had just come out. Now, to think that video can be captured at HD resolution on a cell phone is mind blowing. I had read articles about filmmakers using an iPhone to shoot videos, so I knew it was possible but did not realize how possible it was until I started playing around with it. And after a bit of experimentation I realized the potential of this small but mighty device.  Behind the shoot

I recently had a project come up where I had to shoot and edit a video in less than 24 hours. This was for a new collaborative project between Jeff McBride, the Theory and Art of Magic Press and Magic Magazine. For this task I shot everything on the iPhone. While that may seem a bit ambitious, the quality of the video is quite stunning. In order to get more camera-like capabilities out of the iPhone, I came across this app called Filmic Pro. And for a mere $3.99 this app gives you far more control over the camera than the standard camera app. In fact, it allows you to control the frame rate, focus, exposure & white balance, and even has an audio level meter.  In the next newsletter I will discuss a few more tips for capturing good quality video using an iPhone (or iPod touch).

While I’m not suggesting that the iPhone is an adequate replacement for a professional video camera, for those moments when you just need something quick and easy that will give you high quality results consider the iPhone.

The Necessity of Video

In the past videos were nice to include on a website, today however they are a must-have element of any viable business. We know that a video on our website can give our prospective clients a look into the services and products we offer. Rather than describing your product or service in written detail, a video allows the viewer to see the product or service in action.  But did you know that video is now the essential differentiator that drives search engine optimization?  The days of relying solely on meta tags and keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) are over. According to an article on searchengineland.com, when a company integrates relevant videos that match the content of the site, search engines find and index the video. This, in turn, improves your overall website search ranking and also allows search results to be presented with matching video, which increases search-based traffic to your site. This means having a video as the first thing people see on your website is not only good to engage people on your site, but to actually enhance your SEO ranking. According to Internet marketing guru Bruce Clay, “Since Google integrated video into its search offering, websites featuring video have gained a significant SEO advantage. Relevant videos are being displayed near the top of Google search results.” He has also said, “I think, that a year from now, we are going to be sitting here saying – ‘if you don’t have video, if you don’t have engagement objects on your website, you are just not going to rank. It will make you last among equals if you don’t have it.”

In a study by the Market Experiments Journal, the use of video in viral marketing can also greatly increase people clicking on other pages of your website to find out more about what you offer. It seems having relevant video content on your website has become crucial to being listed in search results, making sales, and enhancing the visitor experience. Do you have a video that drives people to your website?  Is there a high-quality video on the home page of your website? If not, perhaps that should be the next consideration for marketing yourself and your business.